by Lori Dwyer on March 22, 2012 · 26 comments

I don’t want to be bitter.

I’ve known people, I think we all have, who are consumed by an acidic bitterness at life that has become so ingrained in them they can’t shake it. They can’t see past it, or through it. That sense of unfairness, of invalidated entitlement- it casts a shadow through everything they do, as if it’s grown over their vision like a toxic moss.

The last few weeks– roughly since being thrown back into the shifting suds of PTSD at 3am one morning– that bitter, desiccated person has been me.

“I find it hard to keep reading about you…I feel like a passive observer watching a car slowly crash”. Reading that comment, left for me last week, all I could think was… “I know. I feel that way too.”

And fuck it, I’m the one who’s driving.

I can feel it. It’s been in everything the last few weeks. It’s been here, on my blog. It’s been in the traces of friendship that remain in my life. It’s been my own self pity, my own screaming pain, the way I’ve been emotionally manipulative and weak.

I’ve become resentful, of everything. My children. Every person in my life who won’t help me when I need them. Resentful every time I see two people together, happy, enjoying themselves. Spitting with ugly jealously at anyone in love.

I willingly bat away the well-meant philosophy of others. People attempt to balm my pain with complicit cliches and truths told to us as teenagers with the purpose of ballooning fragile self esteem– love yourself and others will love you. It will happen when you stop looking for it. You have to be happy with yourself.

Bullshit, I spit at them, lies. I already did all of that. I already did the hard stuff but I’ve lost my trophy and I’d like a consolation prize now, please. I don’t really think I deserve another trophy and besides, I’m tired– I don’t want to do all that again.

“It must be difficult”, comments my shrink. “Not to get bitter. Not to be bitter. I have clients who have dealt with less than you and they are bitter, they can’t help it.”

And it is. It’s easier to just go with the drumbeat that has percolated my thoughts of late– this is unfair, I don’t deserve this, no one loves me and life is hard, I didn’t sign up for this and everyone is so lucky and they don’t even realize it and I hate all of you.

That’s easy. Buts it nasty and black and makes any kind of happiness difficult to find, and even harder to hold on to.

The flip side is… choosing to be happy. Looking at what I’ve it, not what I haven’t got. Keeping hope and optimism and that soulful, earthy piece of me that gets satisfaction from making and healing and growing and being productive. Being fucking terrified of the rest of my life… but having the quiet confidence that, having done what I’ve done, there will be very few things in my future that will be that heartbreaking ever again. (Bullshit, says that bitterness. Some people just have hard lives and you might go through a million more heartaches before its over with no pleasure in between, cause that’s just life for some people and there’s nothing you can do about it. Life’s a bitch and being a good person makes no difference. And I take a deep breath and tell it to fuck off.)

Letting that bitterness win, it does no good to anyone. It’s no revenge, no spite, no payback, because the people who can’t care now, won’t care then. The only people it will effect is me and my kids. I don’t want to be the mother I see reflected in their eyes of late. That’s not me.

That bitterness, that’s not me either, and I can’t let it win. It’s a matter of replacing that dark, sniping bitch in my mind with something that speaks of hope and dignity and happiness. And making that happy voice louder than the one that’s pulling me down.

It’s easy to be bitter. But fuck that. No one is going to save me, except me. It’s time to start being a bit nicer to myself, to change the internal dialogue. Ive been waiting for someone to come along and tell me what I’m waiting to hear… that I’m beautiful, perfect, worth something, worth more than what I’ve been through lately.

I think the person I need to hear it from is me.

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Glorious Day March 23, 2012 at 5:49 am

I agree that bitterness can really hurt us. When people allow bitterness to totally take over their lives, they actually lower their immune systems and can get really sick, even cancer. I am glad to hear you are working to be more positive, but also remember, you went through an extremely difficult situation and now have PTSD due to this, so give yourself a break!



Anonymous March 23, 2012 at 4:50 am

I have to change my internal dialogue every day. That can really bring you down! And its just not nice to say mean things to yourself, yet I catch myself doing it all the time. Its something I really pay alot of attention to b/c I have found it to be very harmful. Me bringing me down, JUST GREAT! Being a Gemini, I always have the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. And they want to stab each other, daily. So much fun!! Hang in there, say to yourself how wonderful and beautiful you are. Go to the beach, and please go back to the abandoned house- dying over here for more info….. Why, I have no idea…. But something to look forward to I guess. Cause I am crazy like that… xoxo- Lisa


Angela (Solo Mum) March 23, 2012 at 4:10 am

Thinking of you Lori. I sent an email. Here is a poem from a book I read as a teen. When my best friend killed himself a few years ago, it took on its ultimate meaning for me.

Bitter-sweet memories of yester-years
Smart my eyes with sudden tears
I didn't know that it never could last
That I would look back and it would be
The past.


Keeks March 23, 2012 at 3:23 am

Such a great reminder.


Melissa March 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Oh Lori. You are beautiful. You are perfect. You are WORTH SOMETHING.
I think it's okay for those periods of bitterness to ebb and flow. We all have them. Your amazing strength and insight will bat the bitterness back. Just recognizing what's happening and making an effort to change – that's all it takes, and you are already there. It will recede, I know it will. You are too amazing to be one of those bitter people. You've come too far.
Lots of love.

Reply March 22, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Good luck with Mistress Bitterness, your internal dialogue is one of the hardest things to turn around, I've been the same way but got over it…


Mich March 22, 2012 at 8:59 pm

ok, I have to leave a comment here.

I know its no where near the same, but my sister in law went through a very nasty divorce a couple of years ago. And with all the bitterness and nastiness that was going on, it made her physically ill. Until one night she had decided that she had had enough and vented to a friend. From the time she vented and decided to let go of the bitterness, she started to get better and feel healthy and slowly became happy again.

so in other words, bitterness can kill you.

love your lots.


curiosikat March 22, 2012 at 8:34 pm

You are not your experience or your circumstances. Don't be fooled into thinking those things define (confine) you. My belief is that nothing is arbitrary; yes, the old 'everything happens for a reason' cliche. There are lessons to be learnt here. Some people have many lessons to learn in life; it may seem that life is just an evil bitch because bad things keep happening and you can't shake off the worst. In fact, bad things happening, mistakes, mean lessons. Which mean growth. Which mean depth, character, complexity, and people with these qualities have more to offer the world than the average mundane nobody. You are not your experienced, but they help you find who you are, and because you're someone so special and unique you need some pretty special and unique experiences. Life means pain, but that is just one tiny bit of feeling. If feel pain this deeply, you can feel joy to the same extent. Don't let that bitterness overtake you; it will just stop you finding joy again. xx


Penny March 22, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Holy shit your writing is like a double edged sword . I love it and I hate it. I love your rawness and talent and I hate that it represents your hurt and pain, and it's that pain that has allowed you to write in such a way.


A Daft Scots Lass March 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Be kind to yourself and others and force a smile, it still gets the feel-good hormone signals to your brain and you actually do feel better.


deardarl March 22, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Yes. Exactly. I am bitter at the world today. I was a good girl, I did all the right things and still my boy was killed and I'm left here with nothing while everybody else doesn't know how lucky they are. But I am in too much of a mood to even want to try and be happy today.


Gina March 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I just lost my mum to MND (such a simple statement that hides so much) very recently and I have been very positive and strong throughout. but sometimes I see a grandma with their grandkids taking them to swimming or picking them up from school, or an adult mum and daughter together shopping and I feel that pang that it is so unfair that that will never be me. It's really hard not to want what we don't have and accept it and be grateful for everything that we have. You are right, it can't be something so powerful that you let it consume you. I think sometimes when I'm feeling particulary sad or fractious, I let it creep up.


rex March 22, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Once when a close friend was in her deepest, loneliest, darkest time she told me that she swore badly at her mother, after years of suicidal attempts and bitter angst. Her mother turned to her and said, 'the only person than can fix this and change this is YOU' and walked away.

It was her turning point, she said.

At the start of reading this post I decided I would write this here, but then I got to the end and you already wrote it.

You are quite powerful Lori. x


whatkatedidnext March 22, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Yay Lori!


Christie March 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I like the way you are thinking Lori xx Much love to you.


thepixiechick March 22, 2012 at 11:55 am

I wish you could have seen how beautiful you were the day you came over for lunch – how happy, beautiful, sparkling, laughing and lovely. That is the real you. Always has been, always will be.
Love xoxoxo


Melissa March 22, 2012 at 11:44 am

I hope you pin this post somewhere, Lori, so you can go back to it.

I'm a believer in little steps. Little affirmations. Finding what works for you(for me it's books and pretty things, so I surround myself by them) and getting more and more of that around you. Starting as small as spending more time in your garden, as it seems to be something that makes you happy. You deserve those snippets of happiness. And my hope for you is that in time, those snippets grow larger, and closer together. Until one day, there are just snippets of sad.

And it's ok that there are snippets of sad. Tony was worth it. Is worth it. Your marriage, and that life you had Is worth sadness at it's end. That will always be there. Anyone who tells you you'll move on and get 'over' it is lying.

But I hope that you move forward and learn to be happy despite the sad (sounds odd?). That sad has changed you, of course. But I don't think it always will have to be in a bad way. I think that as you heal it will make you stronger, more appreciative of the little things that make you happy.

Who knows. Maybe I'm talking crap. I've certainly not perfected it (my sad is different to your sad, of course). But I'm working on it. And I often think of you, like a silent prayer to the universe that you will find those bits of happiness and gentleness too.


Giving Back Girl March 22, 2012 at 11:07 am

Go Lori, and reread this post often if you feel yourself waivering


Donna March 22, 2012 at 10:44 am

I know this might sound strange, but have you even been to a kinesiologist? They do amazing things, in my humble opinion, on working on emotional, physical and spiritual issues. Not saying its in any way a cure for all the tragedy you have been unfairly dealt but, I dont know, perhaps worth a try if I might help fight against the bitterness (which I have to say you are quite right to feel – I'd struggle against it too!). Thinking of you xx


Miss Pink March 22, 2012 at 9:47 am

You ARE doing much better than you think though. being able to take that step back and see things objectively is a hard skill to master, you can understand why you would feel like X but know that it won't help you out at all so choose to fight feeling that way.
Many many people lack that ability Lori.
It's something I have and view as both a gift and a curse, because sometimes you don't want to be aware that doing this or that would be better than how your body is instinctively reacting.

You're right, you're not living an easy life, but your problems will change. It will come.


Debyl1 March 22, 2012 at 9:43 am

Good on you Lori.You listen to your self girl.You speak wise words.Your line "I dont want to be the mother I see reflected in their eyes of late"is so Powerful.It reminded me how when my girl was young and my mum moved near me as we were very close and this was her first grand child.She then got breast cancer.I was so angry and bitter at the world as this was Not how it was supposed to be.Then one day my girl said"I want my happy smiley mummy back"Oh boy did that hit me and wake me up.I finally saw what I was doing to my baby girls life and decided to change my attitude from there…though it was not easy.Thankyou once again for a very thought provoking post.May love and peace fill your heart x


Missy March 22, 2012 at 9:10 am

Oh Lori…

It's hard to keep reading your story, but I wont ever stop. I admire people who speak the truth, no matter how ugly it is. I think that is beautiful, and I admire you so much for being brave enough to say 'fuck what you might think of me, this is how it is.' It's the bravest thing in the world.

I can't imagine how you aren't bitter. It really does speak so highly of your character that you can see that it is a choice. You can take the easy road and become bitter and cold, but later on that will be harder. Or you can work at not letting the bitterness overtake you, on building your optimism. Do the work now and life will be better and easier later.

…And no matter how dark things get, we can see that at heart you ARE an optimist, because you just keep going.

All the best to you Lori. Complete strangers are thinking of you and sending their love.


Anonymous March 22, 2012 at 9:09 am

* he hears (not hear's)…


Anonymous March 22, 2012 at 9:06 am

"I'm beautiful, perfect, worth something, worth more than what I've been through lately."

God thinks you're all these things…. You said it yourself that you've tried it all and none of it works. Have you tried God? He is the answer. His love is unconditional and unfailing.

I've been reading your blog since shortly after Tony died and have wanted to post so many times about the hope there is in Jesus Christ and now I know is the time. When all else fails God doesn't. Turn to him Lori and you will find a peace that transcends all understanding. That's where all your needs will be met. That's where you'll find the love you long for. That's where you'll be fulfilled so that you can be the mother you know you want to be for your children. Life can change and it can be better. The hope is in Jesus and hear's your cries but is waiting for an invitation into your life. Ask him in.


Steph(anie) March 22, 2012 at 8:59 am

More power to you, love.


Toni March 22, 2012 at 10:22 am

After my son died, I kept telling myself I had to choose whether I'd become bitter or better.
I wanted to be better.
To let his very short life and death stand for something good, and not become an ugly twisted thing.
It's hard, so hard, to find the 'better' in it all, and it's something you have to work at for a long time.
But I'm here, cheering for you Lori. Uselessly, I know, but cheering my f-ing guts out! x


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